I've heard similar sentiments myself. Just last week at an event targeting HR professionals wanting to better understand social media, I was speaking to a colleague who has an extensive online footprint. She spoke about how Facebook for her was highly personal, the one online space where she had a clearly established personal policy of not connecting with co-workers.
It wasn't because she had anything to hide, it was simply because it's become the only place where she can be ordinary. She's not there to extensively promote any of her online or offline professional endeavors. There she can choose, on her own terms, how and who she can interact with. And for her that meant being able to catch-up with friends and family, looking at how they grow and mature. The interesting twist to the story was how she had recently spent time convincing another HR colleague of hers not to delete their Facebook page. That person expressed feelings similar to Paul's, only the platform was different.
Fortunately, most of these social platforms allow you to filter what gets displayed for your consumption. For me, that means "muting" my connection's Farmville and Mafia Wars updates. For others, it may be performing similar functions on other sites.
As someone that lives in a city of over 8 million people, I can sympathize with Paul and my other colleagues. There are few quiet places in New York City, but they exist and can be found in all 5 boroughs. My favorite is the New York Public Library. It's an institution that does amazing work, both individually (through local branches serving their respective communities) and collectively (check out this 2011 article in The Atlantic describing some of their most forward thinking programs). And it's still a place where one can go to sit back, relax, and engage (or not) with other members over mutual topics of interest.
With regards to this discussion, the key differences between the social platforms I described and the New York Public Library is one of intent. We often forget that the primary intention of mediums such as Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, et al., is to make money. The primary intent of the NYC library system is to serve its members. Both serve broad populations but its intent drives how it creates, sustains and promotes its social presence. This is not to say that one organizational model is better than the other, it's just to remind people of this fact.
It's true, somewhat, that businesses large and small have invaded the social media space. That, coupled with the fact that more people in general are using these platforms, make it seem as if you're being bombarded. So it comes as no surprise that people are looking to personalize their space, to carve out a place where they can more clearly define who and how they want to interact with others.
Who doesn't want to inhabit a space where they can get away, and they're always glad you came?
So while we may lament the invasion of our (perceived) personal space, as individuals we have to realize that this is inline with what these platforms were created to do. Let's hope that someone puts forth an alternative to these other social media sites, one that can serve the intentions of old men and others of a similar mindset.
For organizational leaders, this sentiment, along with others such as social media fatigue, should be factored into your business efforts online. Just because you believe that your company should have a digital presence doesn't mean you should be present everywhere. Be cognizant of the culture of the audiences within each platform.
More importantly, social media is an engagement platform. It's where interaction and conversation should be the primary method by which you court your target audience. If you choose to use it merely to push content (and to Paul's point, don't even bother to tailor it to suit the platform's context) your audience may choose to tune you out.